Pregnancy Ultrasound

The Best Care

What is a Pregnancy Ultrasound?

Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to see and record images or pictures on an ultrasound screen in ‘real time’. This makes it ideal for imaging the moving fetus.

You are referred for screening ultrasounds as part of a routine check-up in your pregnancy. This is used to see that the fetus is growing normally, including limbs, heart, brain and internal organs.  It can also help doctors detect some abnormalities earlier than would be otherwise possible.

What happens during the exam?

You are asked to lie on an examination table. The abdomen is exposed and a clear gel is applied to the skin. This can easily be washed off after the examination. The transducer (a smooth handheld device) is moved gently across the abdomen with a sliding and rotating action.

The screening ultrasound is carried out in real time, so the images you see on the screen show what is happening inside your uterus at that moment, like watching a movie. The experience of seeing your unborn baby is exciting and positive so if you want to know the gender of your baby or get baby photos, ask the sonographer before the exam starts. Occasionally, the sonographer will not be able to tell what the gender is, usually because of the position of the fetus. If it is not possible to tell the sex, you will not receive another screening ultrasound for that sole purpose. You should be aware that the assessment of the sex is not 100% accurate.

At some points your sonographer may be quiet while they are concentrating on taking detailed medically needed images needed to assess the development of the fetus from head to toe. A number of measurements of the fetus will be taken, and images saved.

Sometimes the baby might not be in an ideal position to see a particular structure or part of the body, and the sonographer might ask you to return on another day to complete the screening. A transvaginal ultrasound might be beneficial to get the medical images required to accurately complete your exam.  

In a transvaginal ultrasound, a small specially shaped transducer is used, which is slightly larger than a tampon and shaped to fit comfortably into the vagina. Because the transducer is closer to the fetus and the cervix, it can provide clearer images. If a transvaginal ultrasound is needed, the procedure will be fully explained and performed with your consent.

Results from your ultrasound will be sent to your Doctor/Referrer and can be discussed with them at your next prenatal appointment.

Types of  Pregnancy Ultrasounds

1st Trimester 

This ultrasound is frequently used to confirm a pregnancy, to check the age and progress of pregnancy in early stages, or to rule out concerns early on.

Nuchal Translucency

Performed as a genetic screening test and it is used to calculate the likeliness of your baby having a chromosomal abnormality.  This test can only be performed between 11 weeks to 13 weeks and 6 days of your pregnancy. A small fold of skin at the back of baby’s neck is imaged and measured in this exam.

2nd Trimester

This ultrasound provides a detailed assessment of your baby and is usually completed between 18-20 weeks gestation. Screening is carried out at this stage in the pregnancy because the fetus is big enough for its body structure and development to be assessed.

3rd Trimester  

During this ultrasound we check your babies position, growth, development and well being.

How Do I Prepare?

Early Pregnancy

Drink 1L (4 cups) of water 1.5 hours prior to appointment time. Finish your water 1 hour before your appointment.  DO NOT empty bladder until after the examination.  

Biophysical Profile or Pregnancy 28 weeks and over

Drink 500ml (2 cups) of water 1.5 hours prior to appointment time. Finish your water 1 hour before your appointment.  DO NOT empty bladder until after the examination.  Eat regular meals.